Stage 2 Meaningful Use Criteria: Highlights of Proposed Regulations

In February of this year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid along with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT released their proposed rules for the government’s second stage of Electronic Health Record Incentive Program.   In relation to the proposed regulations, officials from each of the aforementioned government offices stated that after a 60 day critique period, the finals rules will be established by the summer.  As the proposal currently stands, the main points of the Stage 2 regulations include the following rules:

  • Stage 2 compliance will be required in October of 2014 for all eligible professionals who first participated in the HER incentive in the year 2011 or 2012.
  • Patients must be given the opportunity to view, download and transfer their medical records online.
  • Eligible professionals must comply with the program before October 1, 2014 in order to avoid the 2015 Medicare reimbursement penalty. Currently there are four exemptions to the penalty:
    1. Lack of or barriers to internet access or IT infrastructure
    2. Time limited exemption for newly practicing EPs
    3. Unavoidable circumstances such as natural disasters
    4. Lack of control over the availability of certified EHIR technology at physician’s office
  • Connections to all registries, including cancer registries, will be required
  • Data must be submitted to public health agencies whenever possible
  • Physician groups of a certain size may report their data as a group rather than individuals

In a general sense, these regulations are designed to encourage both physicians and hospitals to utilize health information technology to improve both quality of care and the efficiency in which the care is delivered. After the sixty day critique period is complete, the majority of these rules will be established by summer of this year and the proposed regulations for stage 3 are set to come in early 2014.  Ultimately, physicians and hospitals should begin to work towards optimizing around these regulations and be sure to be in accordance by October of 2014 in order to avoid the Medicare reimbursement penalty.

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By Kevin Hunter